SARATOGA SPRINGS – With the approach of Easter, many people hard-cook eggs, perhaps coloring them for vibrant displays in a holiday centerpiece. After the holiday, the question arises, “What should I do with all these eggs?”
Several farms at Saratoga Farmers’ Market bring eggs regularly to sell. You’ll find it easy to see the displays of stacked cartons and signs. Ask each farm about how it raises its hens if you are curious; the farmers are happy to help you learn about their approaches and how they differ from large-scale, industrially produced eggs you might find elsewhere.
Brown eggs are most common at the market; ask around if you are seeking only white. Brown eggs can be dyed just like white eggs, with a subtler and very pleasing effect. Sometimes your dozen from the market may have a few green-shelled eggs in them, a lovely surprise. No matter the shell color, eggs of the same size have similar nutritional properties.
While hard-cooking an egg is a relatively easy task, cooking it in just the right way will ensure a more tender egg, without a green ring between the yolk and white, and one that peels easily.
The Martha Stewart website suggests placing eggs in a large saucepan, covering the eggs with an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, and remove from the heat. Let the eggs sit for 12 minutes and then place eggs in a colander and run cold water over them. Peel the eggs right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (To begin peeling, tap the rounder end of the egg on the counter or with a spoon. This end is usually where there is an air pocket, which is an easy starting point for peeling.)
Another respected source, Cooks Illustrated magazine, suggests a very similar method, with a few important deviations: once the water comes to a boil and you remove the eggs from the heat, let the covered pot sit for only 10 minutes (not 12) and then place the eggs in a cold water and ice bath to cool for 5 minutes before peeling or storing.
For easiest peeling, some methods suggest cracking cooled eggs all over (gently roll on the countertop) and returning to the cold water bath for 5 minutes, to allow water to seep into the shell and make removal easier.
Though you might be tempted to hard-cook eggs you have just purchased, in fact, you are better off choosing those that are at least a week old. Older eggs will peel more easily, as the air space between the shell and the whites increases as the eggs rest.
DEVILED EGGS, TWO WAYS
(*Items available at the market.)
On your serving platter, to keep the eggs from slipping around, use a bed of fresh herbs or greens, such as parsley*, arugula*, or mesclun lettuce.*
Chutney-Curry Deviled Eggs
6 peeled hard-cooked eggs*
3 Tbsp. mango chutney
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 to 1 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. chopped chives*
2 Tbsp. toasted almonds, chopped
Slice eggs in half lengthwise, put yolks into bowl, set whites aside. Chop up any large pieces of mango in the chutney into very small pieces.
Blend yolks, chutney, mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, and chives. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, adding reserved 1/2 teaspoon curry powder if desired.
Fill reserved egg whites with yolk mixture. Garnish with chopped almonds.
Mustard-Basil Deviled Eggs
6 peeled hard-cooked eggs*
2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
3 to 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. finely chopped basil*
6 cherry tomatoes*
1 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion*
Slice eggs in half lengthwise, put yolks into bowl, set whites aside.
Blend yolks, mayonnaise and mustard until smooth, then add basil. Fill reserved egg whites with yolk mixture.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Garnish each filled egg with a sprinkling of chopped onion and a tomato half. Or, alternate the two garnishes on the eggs to create more variety on your serving platter. Use any leftover tomatoes to garnish the platter.